Speech by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Healing Foundation report

Location: Melbourne

*** Check Against Delivery ***

When the Prime Minister formally apologised to Indigenous Australians he said it gave us the chance to deal with unfinished business and remove a great stain from the nation’s soul.

He also spoke of the opportunity we have to fully embrace the future together.

We can only do this by healing the loss and grief of the past.

By setting the wheels in motion for action to tackle the intergenerational legacy of trauma and grief.

This is why we are here today.

Earlier this year, I announced $26.6 million over four years to establish the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation which will be operational from 2010.

Today it is with pleasure that I accept the Foundation Development Team’s report, Voices from the campfires: Establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation.

Its vision is to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support and ownership; to help them overcome the cycle of trauma and grief arising from forced removals and other past government policies.

Its focus is on grassroots healing initiatives and preventative health, education and skills training.

At the same time, building an evidence base through the evaluation and documentation of best practice in healing.

Many, many people have been involved in creating this report.

More than 450 people attended 17 workshops and forums across Australia, and 48 written submissions were received.

I want to thank all those people who had the courage to tell their own stories.

And faith in the power of healing.

As one submission said:

‘Healing meant knowing where I fitted in the world. It was about being accepted and about belonging to someone or something. It meant feeling at peace, at one with the land and then within the family.’

Aunty May O’Brien and Greg Phillips led the developmental team to consult with communities and key organisations to hear, first hand, ideas for the Healing Foundation

I thank May and Greg for their outstanding commitment and leadership.

I also thank every member of the team.

Your work reflects your abiding commitment to honour those whose voices you heard around the country.

I also thank Professor O’Donoghue, a senior Stolen Generations member and former Australian of the Year, who also provided support as patron of the team.

Today I am pleased to announce that Aunty May O’Brien, Mr Greg Phillips, Ms Deb Hocking and Professor Helen Milroy will take this work forward and establish the Foundation by the end of this year.

Advertisements for positions on the inaugural Board will be placed in October.

And to recognise your commitment and hard work, I would like to present the co-chairs and team members with copies of the manuscript of the Parliament’s Apology – as a lasting symbol of our shared commitment to healing.